Authorities are looking into whether a man accused of falsely posing as a U.S. Army ranger broke the law while out shopping in suburban Philadelphia.
The Middletown Police Department and military investigators are looking into whether the man illegally profited by wearing military fatigues while shopping Friday at the Oxford Valley Mall in Bucks County, said Middletown Police Chief Joseph Bartorilla.
The man was questioned by Ryan Berk, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. Berk recorded the incident and the video has garnered more than 2 million views between two YouTube accounts. Berk was shopping with his girlfriend and her son when Berk noticed a few things off with the man's uniform.
"A patch was misplaced and his boots were untucked," said Berk, 26. "That's when I initially had a suspicion."
Berk, who is studying criminal justice at Temple University, is heard in the video rapidly and repeatedly questioning the man about different features of his uniform and his military service.
"Why don't you just admit you're a phony? You know it's illegal what you're doing right now?" Berk said in the video which is laced with expletives.
The man then walks off after denying he is an imposter and refusing to say his full name.
Berk swears at the man and yells "stolen valor" several times at the man in the middle of the crowded mall, telling the man that he had friends die in Afghanistan in the uniform he was wearing.
U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick notified the U.S. Attorney's Office of the video, saying it could "contain evidence of a federal crime."
Under the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, it is illegal to "fraudulently hold oneself out" to be a recipient of military decorations with the intent to obtain "tangible benefits."
It is not illegal to falsely claim to be in the military, but Bartorilla says the man could have broken the law if he posed with the purpose of profiting through a discount or other means. State law says it's also illegal to purchase any military decoration earned in service.